Friday, November 16, 2012

Daydream for sale



I blushed. For within minutes of having met lovely Jennifer in person, she had tossed out, "You know what I love in your blog? That you and Remi are always pining after some house or another, imagining what it would be like to move to some place new." Ooh, busted. She nailed it! The heat rose to my cheeks. We can't help it. Remi and I are both nomads for different reasons--me from having moved around so much during my childhood, he for having travelled the world for most of his career. We are always open to the next possibility. Or at least willing to entertain it with a daydream or two. 


When we explore, we wander, often aimlessly travelling down this road or that, happy to be in each other's company with our Golden, Ben, looking out the back window. Many a time have we come screeching to a halt to better take in a happy surprise. So it was with the house for sale roadside on the outskirts of Banon


Remi saw his plan immediately. "The garage could be transformed into a gallery with an atelier above and the rest of the house looks big enough that it could be..." "A B&B?" I interrupted (as I am too often to do). "Exactly."


We were immediately taken by the traditional layout of the house, with its rooms sprouting off from a central stairway, as well as the deep porch off the side. Can't you just see how lovely it could be? Oh, I would gleefully tear down those yellow plastic panels and build a tonnelle to be draped in wisteria and roses. Up would come the cement and down would be laid age-worn dalles de pierres in its stead. I would keep the lovely screen door, imagining its satisfying bang each time someone would head back into the kitchen to fetch another bottle of wine. 


The view of the surrounding mountains opens out with welcome arms and an absolutely massive garden slopes down in descending terraces from the porch. My heart goes out to that forgotten land, dotted with a few scraggly accidental trees and waist high weeds. What could it be? What must it have been?


We decided that we needed a closer look and poked around until we found a dirt path that stopped just below the property's baseline. Apparently our zooming back and forth was worrisome to one of les voisines, whom Remi noticed peaking at us from behind a partially drawn curtain. Didn't she know we were on a dream hunt? We were well-rewarded with our new perspective as the ruin of an ancient tower or pigeonnier took shape. What could we make of that? A nap house? With a star-gazing platform? And just look how close the house is to the village. We could have unlimited access to gooey goat cheese and spiky saucisson!


From down below, we could also appreciate fully how much larger the house was than what we initially thought, including two entire floors that hadn't been visible from the road. Definitely enough room for a B&B. I also took a long gander at the filled in arch on the lower left hand corner of the facade. Open that puppy up, put in a pool that runs half-inside the structure, half out with an infinity drop--et voila, B&B de luxe! In winter, the towering pine would whistle woefully while the chimneys billowed fragrant smoke...Maybe there is space enough for a yoga studio? 

Yes, we spent a good thirty minutes, at least, entertaining this little fantasy. Not long enough for us to even call the number posted on the door but certainly plenty to restock the wishing well. Sometimes just the wondering is enough.


Sincerely hoping that you all have a wonderful weekend ahead, a calm one with plenty of time to let your imagination go...

...and to get you started hop on board, A "Train of Thought" by Chilly Gonzalez. 



And I nearly forgot! What kind of aspiring Frenchy would I be if I didn't mention that this is the weekend when le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! Ah ha! Not being particularly attached to the stuff (nor the headaches it has inspired in the past), I politely declined when my caviste offered a tasting of this year's batch. Without missing a beat, he instead poured a Côte du Rhone Primeur, which is the same concept but made with the more full-bodied varietals that we have in our neck of the woods. It turns out that it has not been a great year for the Beaujolais as many of the vignobles were damaged during heavy hail storms. One winery lost 80% of its production. Happily, there is the rather tasty Primeur as well, which just might leave you dancing like the lovely apsaras...









54 comments:

  1. Thank you for the lovely post
    Nap house!
    I envision a small vineyard on the hill below, and a giant straw from the vines flowing with magic wine up to the patio, good food and conversation.

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  2. Please don't keep dreaming! There is a time for everything in life. Try to realize your day-dreams NOW! Believe me, I know what I'm talking about, still having not finished our old house, barns etc..........................
    So, what's wrong with that charming property?

    Tres amicalement et bon weekend, karin

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    1. I know what you mean Karin but Remi and I have already fulfilled more dreams than we could have thought possible, including owning a lovely home. We will again when the time is right. For now, we need to be here and that is a full-time property, not just a weekend home!!

      Mais merci et Bon Weekend à toi aussi,
      xo,
      H

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  3. Now that is a B&B I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing your dreams with us, Heather. The opposite of you, my roots run deep. I haven't moved around much and get quite attached to the places I call home (I cried big when we sold my first little cottage and moved a whopping 7 blocks). But I do love a good castle in the air and very much enjoy the ones you build. Especially the idea of the screen door banging - what a lovely thought. I can almost hear it.
    Hope your weekend is full of beautiful dreams! XOXO

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    1. I find that so lovely, the idea of having deep roots. What a gift! Was the little cottage all your own? I can imagine how hard that was to leave behind, no matter how beautiful your current home is--and it is. :)

      Imagine if we ever do have a B&B someday--we could have you come and teach an illustration workshop! Wouldn't that be lovely?
      Have fun at your parties!
      H

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  4. I would happily be your first guest Heather... :) Bon weekend... xv

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    1. Oh you would be my "guest" bien avant! Pour une soirée filles! Bon weekend à toi aussi.

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  5. And thank goodness for dreamers, without whom the world would be a much duller place!! Hope you have a gorgeous weekend. xx

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    1. Ain't that the truth?! We need doers too...and then there are those lucky ones like yourself that are both!
      Is it sunny in Melbourne? Hope so!
      xoxoxo!!!

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  6. NAP HOUSE is good for me............DONT BE MAD AT ME but the FOR SALE HOUSE doesnot speak to me.I'm not crazy about the view either................Love all the ideas HOWEVER!A studio,B&B.........pool. DEEEVINE vision there!Don't be upset with moi!XXX

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    1. Oh yee of little faith! It would take a heck of a lot more than that for me to be vexed with you, charming one...

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  7. I'd like to apply for the position as chief cook and bottle washer at your new B&B. I like to dream too.

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    1. Chief cook? Really? Hmmm...I suppose that would keep the saucisson consumption down to a minimum now wouldn't it? :)

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  8. You can sign me up for the B&B too...what a lovely vacation that would be! To dream is free and it feeds the soul with hope, and many dreams DO come true so we should never stop dreaming.
    Lovely words and pictures as always.
    Have a wonderfully happy weekend.
    Sylvia S.

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    1. So perfectly put I can't even add anything, Sylvia. Bon weekend à toi aussi!!

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  9. My husband and I are always visiting new towns (or countries!), wandering around to a constant refrain of "I could live here!" I love your dream B&B, the whistling pine, a yoga studio bien sûr, a nap house... I like the way you dream, kid!

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    1. And I like the way you think Ann! No surprise AT ALL that you are the same...
      Bisous,
      H

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  10. What a wonderful dream, never give up life is full of dreams.
    Barbara

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  11. Ooo - sweet house, with more touches of red - what's that about?! Yes, I love that you're a dreamer; I recently decided I don't dream nearly enough - maybe we'll talk about that - WHEN YOU ARE HERE IN FOUR DAYS!!!!!!! : )

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  12. I enjoy your daydreaming too. French stone houses are my favourite. It looks so cosy to live in there. The Primeur looks delicious and too tempting to try for a drink. Bon weekend!

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  13. There goes my chance to reserve the pigeonnier for some stargazing time with un epoux...:) I like how your visualized your plan and a little disappointed when you didn't call the number at the door. Oh well...there's a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens.

    XX
    Amelia

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  14. No question that we are on the same wave length Heather. Pining away for the perfect home. I hope your phone call was what you were hoping. It would be so much fun to work your dream magic with this house. If not this one....there will be another. That's the great thing about dreams...there is a steady supply. :)

    Thanks for your note on my recent post...I think my dream is coming together, I should know for certain in a few weeks. :)

    Best wishes Heather....keep dreaming!

    Jeanne xx

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  15. Heather, oh dear you make me daydreaming too!!! Love this house and that view!!If we would ever move to Provence, I should contact you to advice us!!
    Happy weekend my dear ! Enjoy the Beaujolais! Maybe one glass...?8! Haha!
    xx
    Greet

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  16. Dear Heather,

    (1) I love the previous commentator's remark about having a "giant straw"....something about that image is just wonderfully hilarious.

    (2) As you know, Herve and I finally found and bought and moved ourselves into our 220 year-old "forever house" (knock on wood...) this past June. Prior to doing so, though, we spent seven years detouring on country roads to get a closer view of something that LOOKED appealing, and/or tramping through antebellum farmhouses (where we always felt like Goldilocks.....too big or too small or too overly-restored or too decrepit, or too close to a development or too remote from ANY airport, etcetera).

    My favorite tale of house-hunting comes from six Christmas's (punctuation?) ago.....when we were driving back to North Carolina, through the mountains from my family's house on the Tennessee side. It was snowing, so(deciding to avoid a wreck on some high pass) we doubled back into Southwest Virginia, travelling on some state-roads that I know of.

    Coming around a rural corner (and, we hoped, generally heading east), I saw a huge, log house....sitting on a hill which overlooked a beautiful small valley with a large creek running through it. All I wanted was to take photographs of it and the some of the enormous, old trees....one look, and you KNEW this place (which I'd never seen before, despite having been raised thirty miles south) was 18th century.....which is very old for Southwest viginia.

    It was beautiful, and we both fell in love with the place...instantly....and there was a real-estate agent's "For Sale" right in the front yard. To make a long story short-ish?...the car was STUFFED with suitcases and Christmas gifts.....and we couldn't find a pen with which to write down the agent's number, and we couldn't (predictably enough) find an address...not even a road sign. It was horrible....we would never be able to find and buy Our Rural Dream Home, once we were back in Durham.

    We settled on each of us memorizing half of the agent's telephone number. Of course, we'd both forgotten the numbers by the time we got home, three hours later. It was terrible. All we had were memories and the 150 or so photographs I'd taken of that mysterious, old house and those achingly beautiful old trees and the cattle sheltering themselves in the blackberry thickets....we'd never find Sleeping Beauty's Log-Castle again.

    The next day I mentioned this tragedy to my mailman (with whom I happen to be friends...this happens when you work at home), and he rather bluntly said "Well, long as yo' ass walking 'round with a camera slung 'round yo' neck, why didn't you just take a picture of the sign?????"

    It had never occurred to Herve or me (with ten university degrees between us, which you would think meant we were sort-of-maybe kinda smart?) to simply take a digital photograph of the sign.

    That would have required some common sense, right?....(to be continued)....

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  17. ....In case you wonder? We did, a month later, finally find the house again, by dint of sending up an agent from my parents' town....and it WAS, after all, a genuine 18th century, 2-story, log fort....built when the Indian wars were still merrily going on. We visited three times (once with my parents), negotiated with the owners (an elderly Yankee couple who'd bought and restored the remote place in the early 70's, and who now wanted to go to Florida). We fell increasingly in love with the place, and knew full well what we'd have to spend to "fix" various aspects of the property.....but the deal fell through on the last visit, when we discovered that the only thing we WOULDN'T own would be the view. We would own everything BUT the one acre across the road and smack in front of the house. This is an area of the country where folks don't believe in zoning-laws, and I told Herve that, for all we knew, a trailor-park or county-dump would be built across the road someday.....and we'd get to look at THAT for the next thirty years.

    to cap things off?....the wife was taking me and my father on a tour of the inside when I said something about the lighting, and she stopped on the stairway to extend her arms and (as though she were announcing some marvelous, bonus-treat!) exclaim "Oh....isn't it WONDERFUL! My husband installed ALL the electrical wiring himself!!!!".

    Her husband was a retired history professor. The walls were all 2-feet thick. We began actually looking for the wiring, rather than admiring the floors. My father told her that was So Nice (!)....and then got me outside, where he told me that he didn't know what my ambitions were, but that he didn't spend twenty years raising a son just so that I could go and get myself burnt-up in some 18th century log-fort during some dark, winter-ice-storm night.

    We didn't buy the place, much to the dismay/displeasure of the owners (yes, they tried to sue). that said?....my next two gallery shows were filled with the 15 or so paintings I did of the place. In the end, all I'd ever really wanted was the view, and I guess I got it.

    As things stand (and at my age), I'm very happy to be in this old place....which was COMPLETELY restored in 2001 (it won the state's preservation award for that year).

    Amusingly enough, Frances "Under the Tuscan Sun" Mayes and her jolly, poet husband Ed are coming here for dinner tonight.....their first visit to this house (they're neighbors....about two miles away). I expect we'll all agree that, at a certain age, the romance of restoring an old house on a large property just doesn't seem so...."romantic"?

    Level Best as Ever....and thanks for the, as usual, evocative posting.

    David Terry
    www.davidterryart.com

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    1. Dear David,

      Your tale was far more evocative than my post! But yes, we all have "the ones that got away"--however, I do believe that log cabin would have got the best of you both. Your papa was right. It does sound terribly romantic though. Especially as it was a fort, per se.

      I know at various times when we have been looking for a house to either rent or buy, over and over I would be told "Well, that just wasn't meant to be," when things didn't work out in our favour or "It will be worth waiting for when you find the right one." Now, I haven't yet had the privilege to visit yours and Hervé's "forever home" but it certainly does seem to me to be the finest example of the latter phrase that I know of.

      Hoping that you have a lovely dinner tonight. I imagine you are cooking up something tasty? A sort of pre-Thanksgiving warmup?
      With all of my Best from a rainy Arles,
      H.

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    2. Dear Heather (and at the obvious risk of hijacking your wonderful blog....but I think you and all fans-of-Ben will love this song?)....

      Well...any discussion I would ever have about longings and ambitions (including those involving houses, where and how to live, etcetera) would proably conclude with my playing this song. It's by Cheryl Wheeler, one of the perhaps-3 very finest and most incisive singer-songwriters I know of.

      go to:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSOXE33EpTk

      do bear in mind that this is a live, VERY-low-tech (to say the least) recording.....the song is on her CD "Mrs. Pinocci's guitar".

      that said?....here's a gift for you and mister ben. and here are the lyrics:

      Howl At The Moon
      Words And Music By:
      Cheryl Wheeler

      If I were maybe a wolf or a dog
      I wouldn't have to speak
      Wouldn't have to talk
      Just eat my dinner and go for a walk
      And howl at the moon

      And if I were laying there just like you
      All curled up the way dogs do
      I'd dream that dream that you're dreamin' too
      And howl at the moon

      Howl at the moon
      Howl at the moon

      And if I could carry your black and white
      Sleep so sound & wake so nice
      I'd keep real close to my own advice
      And howl at the moon

      Oh, you know something I don't know
      You go places I can't go
      You lift your head when the breezes blow
      To voices older than time

      I'll keep you close
      Oh, I like you near
      I'll touch your head and pull your ear
      And watch you resting while I sit here
      And howl at the moon

      Howl at the moon
      Howl at the moon
      Howl at the moon

      I'll watch you resting while I sit here
      And howl at the moon


      ----david terry (who, as you know, loves his dogs....I spend half of days just watching them and trying to learn something that I obviously can't teach myself)

      www.davidterryart.com

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    3. Oh David, I haven't listened to the song just yet (jazz blaring in the living room and will have to get out my headphones) but I LOVE THOSE LYRICS. Now, see? You are making me type in all caps! But I do. Am crazy about them. And am crazy about Ben. Like you, I feel that the better moments of my days are often in hanging out with him. Although I bet he would look to me to give him permission to howl. He is too good of a dog for his own good. Remi has no idea that this isn't how dogs usually are!
      Anyway, back to the song. I love it already and thank you for sending along the lyrics to help decipher the recording. Looking forward to it.
      Happy cooking!
      H

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    4. Not entirely by the way, Heather?......Frances and Ed (who've just returned from their national book tour for their own new & deservedly popular "Tuscan Sun cookbook" are bringing their friend, Susan Wyler....the former editor of "Food & Wine" magazine.

      all of my friends have responded to the news with "How TERRIBLE! What are you going to try to make?"....

      ....and all I have to say is that they're all-three very pleasant and nice folks, and I'll make what I would make if my own parents (whom I happen to like a great deal) were visiting from Tennessee.

      THAT, as far as I'm concerned, is the whole point of having folks into your house for dinner.

      As I wrote on Facebook....."I might as well, at 5'6", spend time worrying about whether I'll look short if I invite the entire New York Knicks Basketball team over for a barbecue."

      ----david

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    5. P.S. I just went looking for this and found it.....a very appropriate gift (also by Cheryl Wheeler)for you, Remi, Ben, and your readers.

      It's a beautiful, wise song that I think of (I mean this) all the time, these days....stick it in your back pocket and remember it, Heather.


      go to:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6j5HOuIpeo&feature=related

      ----david terry

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    6. Oh of course I have heard "Howl at the Moon" before--I don't know why I didn't recognize it just from the lyrics. I was moved by it as well (and certainly the gorgeousness of everyone singing along too) and so called Ben near to me, hoping to have some sort of "moment" with my pupper. Alas, as it was 5:24pm, he was having none of it, could only think that it was close enough to dinnertime and so started barking at me! Sigh. My Ben...

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    7. well, Heather....the song makes me cry, also.

      Nice to know, however, that while we're both and cetainly getting older, at least we're not getting so crusty that a fine, heartfelt song can't make us cry...isn't it?.

      ----david terry

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    8. The day a beautiful song doesn't move me to tears is the day that you should feel free to haul me off to the loony bin, David.

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  18. 'I would keep the lovely screen door, imagining its satisfying bang each time someone would head back into the kitchen to fetch another bottle of wine.'

    Heather, I heard that! All it took was that immaculate detail to have me fully-immersed in this daydream with you! And, can I just say, that I am yoga-studioless at the moment and can just imagine how wonderful it would be to practice there.

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    1. Oooh, what happened to your studio Suze?! Gotta keep at the yoga to keep everything flowing smoothly. Did you see that suggestion about My Yoga Online that I mentioned a while back? It is only ten bucks a month and there are hundreds of classes with all different styles and class lengths. It might be worth a look see...But yes, practicing outdoors in Provence is pretty special. I don't get to do it as often as I like these days but it is great. And that reminds me--do you know what my very favorite yoga video of all time is? Ali McGraw's and it is filmed in...White Sands National Park!!!

      Bisous!

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  19. B&B?! My ears just perked up. May I add my dream to your fantasy? How about a room set aside for writers and artists on retreat? Maybe they could pay their way helping run the place from time to time?

    But I also love your fantasy just as it is, no embellishment required. Safe, safe travels next week, my friend!

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    1. Well, I already tossed out the idea of having Jeanne in Seattle come to teach a drawing/illustration retreat so I can't see why we couldn't do the same with writers as well...or at least have writers in residence...add it to the list!!

      Thanks for the safe travel wishes! Hoping that you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my dear Judith!!!
      Bisous bisous,
      H

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  20. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I figured I'd return the favor, and boy, am I ever glad I did! After looking through some of your earlier posts, and admiring your photographs, I almost feel as though I've just enjoyed a brief, but delightful, visit to France. Your pics and words do such a good job of capturing the essence of your surroundings, and instill a certain romance. (sigh) Yeah, I studied French for five years, and once had dreams of visiting the country in person. Not likely that's ever gonna happen at this late stage, but thanks to your blog, I've found the next best thing. Merci beaucoup. Count me in as your newest follower.

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    1. Hooray! Oh I am thrilled to have a fine writer like yourself here. There are lots of wonderful folks hanging out in these whereabouts, you'll see. Plenty of Frenchy hangers-on like yourself. And five years of study and no visit. Hmm...well, never say never. Truly. If you would have told me a few years back that I would be living here with a handsome French man I would have told you, politely, that you had lost your mind. So you never know.

      Am still thinking about that beautifully crafted letter and am very grateful to Suze for helping bring it to light...
      Have a wonderful weekend,
      Heather

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  21. Heather that is definitely my kind of dream home!(The way you picture it!) It must be so wonderful to be exploring with Remi and Ben! I would be thrilled!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Special Giveaway from Scalamandre!

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    1. Scalamandre! I don't know how you do it! :) I will hop, skip and jump on over to take a look.
      Lovely to hear from you, as always. Sending a warm hug your way...
      H.

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  22. What a lovely daydream. I dream in the same way too. I see an abandoned old house and I long to give it new life. If I had the money, I would be buying these priceless gems (of which we have plenty) all the time and renovating them and turning them into something beautiful again. Enjoy Thanksgiving with your family Heather.

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    1. Thank you so much, Loree. Will you be making a special meal for your hubby and Mischief-Maker? I am so excited to be heading back for a visit...
      And of course, that doesn't surprise me at all that we both put our imaginations to making these homes live again--if only we could really make it happen! And I can only imagine how many, many bijous there must be on Malte...
      Bon Dimanche,
      H

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  23. I am new to your blog. I was doing some research for our trip to Provence in May and found your blog and wonderful photos. The photos make me aware of the beauty in ordinary things...a peeling shutter, a chipped wall, a flower growing out of an old stone wall. We will be staying near St Remy so I have been especially interested in seeing and hearing about that area. I look forward to new postings. Love the honest way you write about your life and things you see and love.

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    1. Thank you so much. May is an absolutely wonderful time to explore Provence! And you will see when you get here that all of those little details are what makes this beautiful area so unique. My only advice--don't overplan your trip!! Leave yourself tons and tons of time to just relax and take it all in--THAT is what Provence living is all about. :)

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  24. Oh how I wish you had bought that house on the outskirts of Banon... I had dreams of night after night bar au vin dates :)

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    1. And you wouldn't even have had to drive home afterwards! Sleepovers a plenty!

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  25. I remember thinking after reading your abandoned chapel post where you were imagining a nook to read and to lay out carpets that we had a lot in common. This is exactly where my thought process goes when I see a beautiful space with potential.

    I suspect that you're also one of those people who from time to time mentally redecorate and organize other people's homes. ; ) Me? Guilty as charged!

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    1. Waaaah!! Ella! Yes, you are right but I don't do it in any sort of snarky way (nor do I suspect do you) but more like "Hmmm, let's see, what would I do here..."--and that is usually when the conversation is droning on about French politics for too long! ;)

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  26. Heather,

    What a wonderful post, dreams are special to be sure. I dream of a cottage on the lochs of Scotland. I know it is crazy but one never knows.

    I can see so many possibilities for this property, a writers retreat, a place for bloggers to meet and great, workshops taught by both you and Remi. So many possibilities.

    Have a beautiful day, Elizabeth

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    1. Elizabeth, it pleased me to no end that you stopped by beyond for one of the BIO events! And my oh my who WOULDN'T dream of a cottage on the lochs of Scotland?! That left me breathless--I love that you dream big!!! And yes, you never do know do you. If someone would have told me that one day I would be living in the South of France with a handsome companion, I never in my wildest dreams thought it possible!!!

      Wishing you a lovely evening,
      Heather

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  27. Oh how I adore your dreaminess! Heather, don't ever change hahaha!

    ~ Clare x

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